I couldn’t talk about the Olympic basketball tournament without talking about the 3X3 tournament. Represented in the Olympics for the first time this year, 3X3 basketball is something I love watching as a basketball fan and it’s totally different from the basketball we know, super fun to watch, there is some real skills in 3X3 and you’ll be surprised to find some player you may be knowing from NBA, WNBA or any other league across the world…

How does 3X3 basketball work ?

Most of rules are obviously the same as it’s still basketball but the game format had to be adapted to a half-court and 3 players format so here is a list of rules specific to 3X3 basketball :

  • 2pts = 1pt / 3pts = 2pts (a free throw is still 1pt)
  • 21pts to get the win OR 10min
  • If the game is tie at the end of the 10min : first team to get at least a +2 advantage wins
  • The ball is a size 6 ball and not a size 7. The grip is higher than normal balls grip.
  • 4 players in a team (3 on the court, 1 on the bench)
  • When a team intercept the ball, they must take the ball outside (behind the 3pts line)
  • When the opponent is scoring, you take the rebound and gotta go outside (no check ball like we’re use to do in playground games)
  • If there’s a reaching foul or ball is out of bounds : check ball.
  • The court is a little bit shorter than a normal half-court
  • The surface of an official 3X3 game can change from a tournament to antoher but the surface used for the Olympics is “gerflor” (sort of plastic surface)

How does the tournament works ?

  • A single pool of 8 teams
  • First two teams qualified for the 1/2 finals
  • 3rd vs 6th and 4th vs 5th in 1/4 finals
  • 4 vs 5 winner reach 1/2 finals against 1st
  • 3 vs 6 winner reach 1/2 finals against 2nd
  • Final and 3rd place game

The FIBA 3X3 official ball made by Wilson and the court of the Olympic Games

The teams and players to watch for during the tournament

Now that you know about how 3X3 and the Olympic tournament works, let’s have a look at who’s waiting for you on the court !

For the men’s tournament we got a trio coming from Eastern Europe : #1 FIBA rank Dusan Bulut and the Serbian team, a solid Latvia with 24 years old 3X3 future star Karlis Lasmanis and then Russia with one of the best 3X3 player, Alexander Zuev. This will probably be the trio competing for a the first Olympic gold medal in the History of 3X3 basketball.

For the women’s tournament we got France, Russia and obviously United States. Among those three teams, France is the most favourite as they have THE best 3X3 player in the world : Laetitia Guapo. Then we have a solid Russian team and an American team without WNBA star Katie Lou Samuelson (out for health and safety protocol) but still with some great players such as experimented Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum.

Regarding the men’s tournament let’s not forget about Netherands who beat United States and then France during the OQT and in the women’s tournament watch closely for Raelin d’Alie. The Italian is one of the most explosive player of the tournament and she might cause troubles to the contenders.

These Olympics are the occasion for the world to discover and learn more about 3X3 basketball as the sport never had such an important platform. If you’re a basketball fan, watch the 3X3 tournament, you’ll enjoy it !